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Men's volleyball falls against George Mason, will face Penn State in postseason

It was a tough weekend for the no. 27 ranked Princeton men’s volleyball team as they fell on the road against George Mason University to finish off their regular season.

The Tigers (11-12 overall, 6-6 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) took their lumpson Fridayagainst a George Mason squad that has had their number all season. The Patriots (14-12, 7-5) swept the Tigers in three sets. These battles, however, were closer than the word “sweep” might have implied—the Tigers fell by slim margins in each one, 25-23, 29-27, and 25-22.


Moreover, the games did not feature many runs—these teams went tit for tat in every set played. In the first set, while the Tigers did manage to get out a 9-6 lead early on, George Mason would quickly clamp down on that gap. After 3 unanswered scores by the Patriots to tie the game, neither team would lead by more than one for nearly the remainder of the set. Unfortunately for the Tigers, after a long fought battle saw the score move to 23 apiece, George Mason broke this trend with two straight kills that ended the first contest.

The second set started fairly similarly to the first—George Mason led by three early on, only for Princeton to come roaring back to tie things up. This time, however, the Tigers were able to take a commanding lead, going up 21-17 and looking to tie this match back up.

George Mason, however, responded with vigor. Back to back kills by the Patriots’ Jack Wilson, followed by attack errors by senior outside hitter Cody Kessel, led to a set tied at 21. This one went right down to the wire, heading past the 25 point mark as neither team was quite able to break away. George Mason, though, would break through yet again, as a kill by Wilson and another attack error by Kessel sealed the deal.

The last set was more of a game of runs—Princeton came out strong early with a 6-2 lead, only for the Patriots to hit them with an 11-4 run to grab a 3 point lead. For the third straight set, this margin of three would be reduced to none, as these teams could not break away from each other. Unfortunately for the Tigers, when the score settled at 21-21, George Mason would put in 4 of the last 5 to finish off the Tigers’ regular season.

With the postseason so close, this game had incredibly important implications for the Tigers’ postseason position. These two teams were neck and neck even in the EIVA standings. Should the Tigers have beaten the Patriots, they would have earned a battle with Harvard in the EIVA Championship tournament. The Crimson (13-11, 7-5) have gone 1-1 with the Tigers this year, each team getting a 3-1 win over the other. The battle, it seems, would have been incredibly close.

With the loss, however, the Tigers have a worst-case scenario: battling the Penn State Nittany Lions (18-9, 12-0), who have won the EIVA Championship for 16 years straight. Penn State (ranked no. 6 in the NCAA) has had Princeton’s number this season, defeating the Tigers twice to the tune of 1-3 and 0-3.


This certainly isn’t to say that the Tigers lack the tools to pull off an upset. Princeton had two players on the All-EIVA First team, the second most representatives from any single team. Kessel and sophomore middle blocker Junior Oboh earned the honors. Kessel is second in the EIVA and third in the nation for kills per set at 4.3 a game. Oboh is second in the EIVA and 22ndin the nation for blocks per set at 1.05.

The Tigers also had representatives on the All-EIVA second team as well, as senior middle blocker Will Siroky and sophomore setter Chris Kennedy earned the honors.

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